Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Michael Shannon is Killer (But Not The Killer)

Let me just get this out of the way: I'm not that into Eugéne Ionesco. I think it's important for critics to acknowledge their biases because everyone has them and I prefer realism to absurdism. But while The Killer is not my type of play, if any theater company can make me enjoy it, it's Theatre for a New Audience.
Photo credit: Gerry Goodstein
Michael Shannon plays everyman Berenger. Some say he's miscast in the role, but I found him convincing and it is nice to see him play against type. It was especially a pleasure in the scenes where he is at his most euphoric, such as in the first scene, when Berenger is learning about a radiant city that he wants to move to from the architect (Robert Stanton). Berenger's bubble is burst when he finds out there is a killer loose and Berenger makes it his mission to find and stop him.

Director Darko Tresnjak's, who just won a Tony for A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder, vision is an eerie one, realized with the help of lighting designer Matthew Richards and sound designer and composer Jane Shaw. He balances the humor--Kristine Nielsen and her cartoonish facial expressions are a highlight--and the horror--the killer's (Ryan Quinn) maniacal laughter still haunts me. 

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